Going home from a vacation is both an exciting and tiring experience. But, imagine going home to your condo when, all of a sudden, when you open your door, you are greeted by a flooded living room. As unusual as it sounds, it may be a true-to-life experience for some of us, and quite honestly, a stressful one.
Unlike people whose personal property is a house, condominium property owners are arguably more at risk of suffering from water damage because, although you have mitigated the potential of having a water leak due to your property failure, coming from your upstairs neighbor is something that is out of your control. And as we all know, damage caused by water, though it might be rare, is stressful and dreadful, especially for condo owners who suffer from it due to the upstairs unit’s fault or negligence. As a unit owner, the question is, what should I do when I experience water damage?
Common causes of water leaking from an upstairs condo
Water damage from the upstairs unit can be caused by a lot of factors. These are the items commonly attributed as the leading causes of water damage coming from the upstairs unit. Some of this damage might be a consequence of neglect by the upstairs condo owner, but some is unintentional. Examples of these are poor building plumbing or maintenance, faulty washing machines, water pipe leaks from bathtubs and showers, defective pipes behind walls, or broken water filters.
What to do if your upstairs neighbor is causing water damage to your condo unit?
Identify the source of the water leak.
Knowing where the leak has started is key. Simply cleaning the problem but not being able to identify the cause can be both labor-intensive and time-consuming on your part. Band-aid solutions are really not advisable in this area, especially if you want to prevent further damage to your personal property.
Let your upstairs neighbor know.
When you have carefully observed every part of your property and have identified that, at the end of the line, it is the condo unit upstairs that is causing the water damage, the first step is to let them know about the pressing issue.
Keep in mind that they might not be aware that their water pipe has already burst and that this particular broken pipe has already caused you a lot of damage. Calmly explaining to them the extent of the water damage and the pressing need for both parties to address the concern as soon as possible can make a huge difference, particularly in the extent of damage prevented.
Notify your building’s maintenance team.
Letting the key person know that, in this case, the maintenance team as well as the condominium management can truly make the difference. A key tip when asking for their help is to explain the weight and urgency of the situation, as it may affect other units as well.
Clean it up so that water damage may not get worse.
Mitigating the damage caused by water damage is a must. But before doing so, keep in mind that you should take proper documentation of the whole area. Your insurance company, where you are to submit this particular insurance claim, requires proper documentation of the incident, particularly in pictures. When you finally gathered all the needed documents for the insurance agent, Secure all your belongings, such as appliances (particularly electrical appliances since they are the most vulnerable when in contact with water), important documents, and fans, on the common wall or other walls to help prevent mold and mildew from deteriorating their quality.
Review your HOA’s master policy
After dealing with the wet carpets and saving your perishables such as important documents and appliances, the next step is for you to look for your homeowners association master policy. During this fortuitous event, being able to secure a copy of the document is needed. It is ideal for you to have 2 copies: one is for your insurance company and the other is for you to review. It is necessary for you to review this master policy as it helps you determine the possible assistance the Home Owners Association can provide for you as a condominium owner.
Contact an experienced public adjuster immediately.
Notice the word immediately, as contacting them right away can mean efficiency in dealing with the recovery of your condominium unit as fast and as cost-efficiently as possible. In challenging times like this, you might feel that there is a lot on your hands to manage. As a condominium unit owner, you have to deal with the stress this fortuitous event has brought to you. Along with it is the compiling of necessary documents required when you file insurance claims.
This task is really tedious on your part as it will require too much time and focus. Please remember that the time and attention required will be pulled away from your day-to-day tasks. Soliciting the help of a public adjuster can make all the difference, as they can give you expert insurance advice and represent you in the insurance claim process. Public adjusters can help you maximize insurance for losses you have incurred due to the water damage caused by the upstairs unit.
Does your condo insurance cover water damage caused by your upstairs neighbor?
Having an insurance policy to back you up and cover the restoration or renovation of your destroyed property is a peace of mind for every person that owns a condo unit. This is both costly and time consuming for the unit owner. So to answer the inquiry, does your condo insurance cover water damage caused by your upstairs neighbor?
The short answer is: it depends.
But a primary thing to consider is what caused the said leak. Actions taken by your insurance company are dependent on many different factors. For example, if the water damage caused by the upstairs condo owners has no provable negligence and can be traced as accidental water damage, this issue and any damage related to it can be handled efficiently by your personal homeowners insurance. If not, further actions can be taken. But before we dive deeper, let us first discuss the things we should do to efficiently handle the concern and prevent further damage to our property.
How can a public adjuster help
A public adjuster’s primary task is to act as your advocate in the whole insurance claim process. Having an insurance policy in a challenging time such as this is one thing. Being able to maximize your insurance coverage is another. But before that, let’s first address the elephant in the room. Properly understanding insurance policies is not a walk in the park. Keep in mind that even though you have experienced water damage without the proper documents, this might be deemed not an insurable event by your insurance carrier. This means strong caution and careful attention on your part are needed for you to be able to make the most of your insurance coverage. An experienced public adjuster can help you handle this huge issue efficiently, as this is what puts food on their tables. Public adjusters help you not only by representing you in the insurance claim process, but they will also provide you with a list of items that are part of your insurance coverage but might not be obvious to you. This list of items is complete with the allocation of costs from broken appliances, drywall costs, exterior walls, and damaged ceilings, especially when the cause of the water damage is from the upstairs condo. Public adjusters also make sure that unseen areas such as electrical fixtures and ceiling light fixture estimates are also accounted for. This guarantees that every area of damage from the particular insurable event is well documented, properly accounted for, and that the cost of repair is accurate. This is where most insurance policy owners tend to have a hard time as they tend to either lowball the insurance claim or exaggerate the claim, which narrows the chances of having an insurance claim. Public adjusters help you by saving you time, effectively representing you in the insurance claim process, and making sure all the needed documents are submitted, thus helping put your insurance dollars to work.